9 New York City firefighters have been suspended for racist messages they spread after George Floyd’s death

9 New York City firefighters have been suspended for racist messages they spread after George Floyd’s death

  • White firefighters reportedly passed along racist memes in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 
  • 9 firefighters were suspended as a result, The New York Times reported. 
  • The suspensions range from just a few days to six months. 

Nine New York City firefighters were suspended without pay after they shared racist messages and memes in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death last year, The New York Times reported. 

A spokesman told the Times it was the “most severe” punishment ever handed down in the department.

“When the abhorrent meme/texts were reported to the Department, FDNY’s Bureau of Investigations and Trials and the EEO office immediately began investigations. Members involved were suspended,” an FDNY spokesperson told Insider in a statement. 

The suspensions range from just four days to six months, the department told Insider. The Times reported that one firefighter will not return after their suspension. 

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes despite Floyd’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

The incident was recorded on video and went viral, sparking nationwide protests including in New York City. 

In April 2021, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in connection to Floyd’s death. He was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. 

The Times reported that FDNY suspended the white firefighters after Black firefighters reported the racist memes making fun of Floyd’s dying moments. The messages also included discussions about turning fire hoses on protesters with some arguing that it wouldn’t work because “wild animals like water,” the Times reported.

The Times reported that the FDNY, the largest in the country, has had a history of racist behavior. In an emailed statement, FDNY told Insider that 75% of firefighters are white, a decrease from 93% in 2014. Only 8.2% of current firefighters are Black. 13.4% are Hispanic and 2% are Asian. 

By comparison, the Times reported that 47% of the city’s police force is white. 

The department has also received scrutiny because until 2019 its training manual included a passage that said women and people of color make team-building difficult. Only 128 women currently serve as NYC firefighters out of more than 11,000 firefighters and fire officers.


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